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May 8 2015

New form of DNA modification may carry inheritable information


Scientists at the University of Chicago, Harvard, and China have described the surprising discovery and function of a new DNA modification in insects, worms, and algae.

Common DNA modifications occur through methylation, a chemical process that can dramatically change gene expression, which regulates the eventual production of proteins that carry out the functions of an organism.

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May 8 2015

Flower find provides real-time insight into evolution


A Stirling scientist who discovered a new Scottish flower has made an unexpected second finding which provides unique insight into our understanding of evolution.

Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin, a Plant Evolutionary Biologist at the University of Stirling, first unearthed a new species of monkeyflower on the bank of a stream in South Lanarkshire, Southern Scotland in 2012.

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May 7 2015

Discovery of missing link between the 2 main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals


Scientists have discovered a “missing link” between the two main life-forms on earth which could help to explain the evolution of organisms with complex cells like those found in all animals including humans.


Alt: Single-Celled Critter Now Earliest Human Ancestor?

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May 7 2015

A hot start to the origin of life?


DNA is synonymous with life, but where did it originate? One way to answer this question is to try to recreate the conditions that formed DNA's molecular precursors. These precursors are carbon ring structures with embedded nitrogen atoms, key components of nucleobases, which themselves are building blocks of the double helix.

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May 7 2015

Geochemical process on Saturn's moon linked to life's origin


New work from a team including Carnegie's Christopher Glein has revealed the pH of water spewing from a geyser-like plume on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Their findings are an important step toward determining whether life could exist, or could have previously existed, on the sixth planet's sixth-largest moon.


Alt: Saturn Moon's Activity Could Be 'Curtain Eruptions'

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May 7 2015

Europa's Elusive Water Plume Paints Grim Picture For Life


A meteorite may have been responsible for a water plume briefly spotted above Europa two years ago, implying it takes a very rare event to breach the ice on the Jovian moon.

Astrobiologists worldwide received news in December 2013 that water vapor was detected in Hubble Space Telescope observations of Jupiter's moon Europa, which is considered one of the top potential locations in our solar system for life.

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May 7 2015

Did Mars Have Flowing Water 500,000 Years Ago?


Could water have carved channels on Mars as recently as 500,000 years ago? If that's the case, it would boost the case for relatively recent life on the Red Planet.

There's abundant evidence showing that Mars was wet early in its 4.5-billion-year history, but new research suggests that the water comes in cycles, providing opportunities for life to take a hold in between the long, cold ice ages.

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May 7 2015

Asteroid-Mining Company to Deploy 1st Satellite This Summer


The nascent asteroid-mining industry is set to take its first steps into space this summer.

Planetary Resources' Arkyd-3R probe currently sits aboard the International Space Station and is scheduled to be deployed sometime in July, representatives of the Washington-based asteroid-mining company have said.

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May 7 2015

Two Asteroid Events, Not One, Made Twin Craters


For 50 years, East Clearwater Lake and West Clearwater Lake in Québec have been considered twin craters formed together the moment a pair of star-crossed asteroids slammed into the Earth.

But new radiometric dating of rocks and a detailed look at the impact sites suggests the two craters are a "false doublet," created by two separate asteroid impacts about 180 million years apart.

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May 7 2015

NASA records mysterious sounds 36 km above Earth's surface


A NASA high-altitude balloon experiment run by graduate students in the US has captured some unexplained and strangely complex sounds at 36 km (22 miles) above the surface of Earth. Known as atmospheric infrasound, these sound waves dip below frequencies of 20 hertz, which is beyond the range of human hearing.

"It sounds kind of like The X-Files," Daniel Bowman, a doctoral candidate in geophysics at the University of North Carolina who, designed and built the equipment that recorded the sounds.

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May 7 2015

Scientists take first ever picture of thunder


Lightning has long been a favourite of photographers, who can capture the arc of light in stunning detail. But pioneering scientists have captured a ‘picture’ of the sound that goes along with it, taking the first ever detailed image of thunder.

The images are made up of acoustic maps, and are taken using special equipment that can visualise the way that the sound moves in space.

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May 7 2015

Fungi enhances crop roots and could be a future 'bio-fertilizer'


New research has found that the interaction of roots with a common soil fungus changes the genetic expression of rice crops—triggering additional root growth that enables the plant to absorb more nutrients.

In addition to causing extra root growth, the mycorrhizal fungus also enmeshes itself within crop roots at a cellular level—blooming within individual plant cells. The fungus grows thin tendrils called hyphae that extend into surrounding soil and pump nutrients, phosphate in particular, straight into the heart of plant cells.

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May 7 2015

Rubber from dandelions


Dandelions deliver a desirable product: rubber. This is why the robust and undemanding plant has become the focus of attention of the rubber-producing industry. But how is rubber, contained in the plant's white milky fluid, actually formed? A team of scientists has now identified proteins, which play a key role in the production of rubber in the plant. Thus a biotechnological production of rubber comes closer.


Related: Discovery of gene that determines cocoa butter melting point to have far-reaching effects

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May 7 2015

Predicting Tropical Deforestation With Big Data


Silicon Valley data scientists are teaming up with rainforest conservationists to predict where and when the planet’s jungles will be cut down ahead of time using new kinds of algorithms and satellite imagery.

This marriage of big data and environmental activism is designed to slow the rapid pace of illegal logging.


Related: Forests are 'key feature' of food security landscape

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May 7 2015

An Obscure African Plant Tells Miners Where to Look for Diamonds


Diamonds you’re familiar with. Pandanus candelabrum, not so much. And until recently, botanists didn’t pay much attention to this rare, palm-like plant from West Africa either. But the discovery that P. candelabrum grows only over rock that may harbor diamonds has vaulted the plant out of obscurity.

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May 7 2015

After The Nepal Earthquake, Everest Is A Little Shorter


The world’s tallest mountain is a little shorter after the newly-named Gorka earthquake that hit Nepal in late April.

The Nepal earthquake that hit just before noon on Saturday, April 26, 2015 officially has a name: it’s the Gorkha earthquake. The sudden slip of the tectonic plates during the earthquake literally reshaped the land.

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May 7 2015

Ice cores show 200-year climate lag


Scientists have found a 200-year lag time between past climate events at the poles.

The most detailed Antarctic ice core provides the first clear comparison with Greenland records, revealing a link between northern and southern hemisphere climate change.

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